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[Story] Mr. Darkness and Mrs. Moonlight

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Here's my Christmas present for the people of Doki:


The sun's last rays still lit the western horizon, but for for all practical purposes, the night had begun. Noboru sat in the terrace of a café, eating a sandwich and drinking tea, alone. His posture was relaxed, cross-legged and leaning on the backrest, but behind his rectangular glasses and the fringe that almost covered his right eye, his eyes gazed at a nearby high-rise building sharply like a hawk following its prey.

“Okyaku-sama... excuse me, but we're closing.” While his eyes never left the building, he was aware of the waitress standing to his right and placing the bill on the table.

“Ah, yes. I'll be on my way, then.” He finished his already lukewarm tea, paid, and walked out with the remains of his sandwich.

Yawn. Damn it, he'd missed his chance to take a nap. Following Peak had been unexpectedly easy, Noboru was quite sure nobody had seen him. After all, people didn't usually randomly look up at the sky. However, afterwards he'd had to wait and keep watch for hours, while the demon moved around close by, occasionally announcing its location with a power spike. Chasing it would've been a fool's errand, so Noboru kept close to the steady flame of Peak's power.

The demon's power had stabilised and started rising some fifteen minutes ago. Since then, it'd stayed in one place, the rooftop of the building that he was watching now. Noboru had considered going over while it was still weak, but thirst and hunger caught him unawares, so he popped by in the café right before its closing. Thirst and hunger were bad, they sapped your strength and disrupted your concentration. Losing your focus in the middle of a battle was a sure way to get killed.

“Right, then. Time to go say hello.” He threw a quick glance at a building on the other side of the street, an office building where Peak had stayed since around half past six. She was still in there, at one of the highest floors. She would be aware of him and the demon's powers converging, unless she was keenly focusing on something else. But that had happened a few times before, it couldn't be helped. Demons were drawn to her power like moths to a flame.

Finding a quiet place to move 'upstairs' was no easy task within a busy town centre. After ten minutes of looking, he found himself in a small park with no lights except those following the single road through it. There were some pretty dark spots among the trees some distance away from the road.

“This will do,” he concluded, looking around one more time to ensure no one was looking. Then he closed his eyes for a brief moment, recalling the humbling feeling of powerful stormwind blowing against him. He clung to that feeling, anchored it in his mind.

“Divine wind, raging vortex, carry me to the sky and deliver me to my destination... Benayaizu!” At once, he felt the rush of magic flowing in his body. It burned like fire, and yet it felt so good you just wanted to drown in it. This ecstatic mixture of pain and pleasure was something every mage had to deal with. If you failed, your mind was lost. If you could hold your focus while enduring the constant assault, you could produce miracles.

All of a sudden, a whirlwind appeared where nothing but a gentle wind had sighed in the trees. It swirled around Noboru, focusing and wrapping around him. And then it raised him up to the air.

Leaving behind the safe and steady ground he ascended to the night sky, wrapped in a whirlwind. The cold wind outside and the burning magic inside, they warred over his body. Keep them balanced. Focus on the destination. He had to squint to protect his eyes from the wind, but he knew the direction and willed the wind to carry him there. Even with all these sensations warring over his body, he was still clearly aware of the two beacons of power ahead. He headed for the weaker one.

Mere moments later, he descended on the rooftop and dispersed the wind. There was no one in sight, just a big rooftop unit. It was on this cubic air handling machine that Noboru set his gaze on.

“I know you're there. Why don't you come out and play? Did you fall asleep waiting for me?”

At his words, the shadows moved. From behind the rooftop unit, a large creature stepped out of the shadows. It was well over two metres tall, dark-coloured and very muscular. It had rather handsome horns curving back from the side of its head, but it had no hair. Its eyes were black, so black they could be distinguished even with this little light and against the dark skin, and there were no whites. Its slightly arched middle body was protected by a blood-red scale armour and its crotch was covered with a loincloth made of grey fur. From its back four long tentacles emerged, wriggling around slowly, like snakes. Its heavy arms and five-fingered hands were rather human, except for the deadly eagle's claws on its somewhat pointed fingers. Its legs were robust, its feet large and taloned both in the front and behind, much like a bird's, designed for both walking and grabbing.

“Yeah, I almost fell asleep waiting. What took you so long?” The demon spoke good Japanese, if heavily accented. Noboru knew this already, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered talking. Most demons didn't speak Japanese. This one did, as Noboru had learned in the past two nights that he'd spent chasing this demon around the city.

“Popped in a café and took a bite. Now, show me what you have for me tonight, the reason why you risked running around in broad daylight. Let's get this over with, so I can go to bed.” Despite all his exhaustion, Noboru found himself curious about the trap that had been prepared for him. Demons were usually more straightforward and arrogant, being confronted by one as cunning as this one was a rare treat.

The demon smiled, revealing its uncomfortably sharp row of teeth, startlingly white against its dark face. “As you wish, boy. Enjoy your death.” It raised its hand towards Noboru and uttered some words that a human mouth would have great trouble repeating. A violet light started shining from below, and a wide, glowing magic circle appeared on Noboru's feet. Well, it didn't exactly appear: it was probably there already when he stepped in it, he just hadn't noticed it before it was activated.

Immediately Noboru regretted giving the demon the first move. The magical trap paralysed him completely, he couldn't move a muscle. Even breathing became difficult, as he could only expand his chest and stomach a few millimetres. It was almost as if the air around him had suddenly become solid. Shit, this is bad!

“I spent all day preparing these in various convenient locations, but it seems only one was needed,” the demon gloated. “I'd kill you quickly now and spare you the pain of suffocating, but I'd be frozen as well if I stepped inside the circle. If you're still alive when I return, I promise I'll finish you off myself. Now, excuse me as I go and grab my prize.” With heavy footsteps fitting for its hulking body, the demon walked past the circle and its prisoner towards the edge of the roof.

Noboru had exactly one chance of survival. Being so completely paralysed, unable to breathe, death imminent, a lesser mind would have been absolutely panicked by now. However, with incredible effort Noboru managed to retain his composure, block the rising panic away and ignore the discomfort, concentrating on the wind. He'd dispersed the wind earlier, but he hadn't ended the spell yet. Magic still rushed through his body and his mind still commanded the winds around him.

As the demon approached the edge, his stride was interrupted by a strong gust of wind that forced him to raise his arm and cover his face. “What the...?”

Winds fluttering his clothes, Noboru stood on the elevated edge of the roof, right in front of the demon. Hands in his pockets, showing no anxiety, he stared directly into the black eyes, now roughly on the same level as his.

“Leaving so soon? I thought the party was just getting started.”

* * *

“What's wrong, Emi?” mother asked, putting a gentle hand on Emi's shoulder. “You seem distracted.” They had finally finished the long meeting with Teshigawara-san, and were now leaving. Morishita was waiting in front of the building with the car.

Emi turned to look at her mother – and froze. Right where she felt an especially strong 'hunch', up on the rooftop of a nearby building, there was a bright violet glow. A blink later, it was gone. The night sky above the building was just as dark as everywhere else.

“Oh, nothing.” Her eyes had been playing tricks, surely. The light had only been there for a second. “I'm just tired.” Tired enough to start seeing things?

“Yes, it has been a long day. You did well today, dear, I'm proud of you.” Mother stroked Emi's hair briefly before they entered the car. Despite taking this long, the meeting had gone well. Teshigawara-san had clearly been taken with Emi (like a dirty old man, which he probably is, Emi thought with disgust), so mother was in a good mood.

* * *

The time for leisurely talking was over. The demon revealed its teeth again, now in an expression of rage, and swung its arm horizontally. Stepping back, Noboru witnessed a quartet of eagle's claws slicing the air right in front of his unprotected throat. Feeling nothing under his backfoot, he fell off the roof. A moment later, the rough winds picked him up and threw him back up to the roof's level.

The magic circle faded out in an instant, as the demon cut it off from its power source, himself. There was no point holding up a spell that had failed its purpose, especially such a draining one. This demon, while relatively powerful, didn't have the luxury of wasting power. Not when facing someone of Noboru's calibre.

It was casting a spell again, in that strange language. A few words, and suddenly its tentacles started thrashing around wildly, as if in pain, stretching and changing form. They became something akin to the 'wings' of a flying squirrel, thin membranes connecting its arms and legs. This flesh-molding spell was one that Noboru had seen before. He knew that those wings were not meant for actual flying, but gliding.

But there was more to the demon's ability to always flee from Noboru. Its legs were strong, incredibly so. It could run faster than Noboru could fly. And even with such a large and heavy body, its legs pushed off the rooftop with such force and speed that Noboru barely managed to evade, the powerful whirlwind wrapped around him being his salvation. With the aid of its freshly shaped wing membranes, the demon sailed towards the next rooftop just as fast as Noboru could force the winds to carry himself.

And so began the third night of the hunt.


Roughly halfway done with the first chapter, I think.

I decided to cut the chapter here, after all. Felt like a good place to end a chapter.


Chapter 2: The Diversion

As if conjured by Noboru's whirlwind, there was an unusually chilly headwind next morning when he walked to school. In September, typhoons sometimes caused strong winds and rain even this far inland, but this wind was too dry and cold to be considered normal for the season. Luckily, today was just the day when the students in his school were supposed to stop using the summer uniform, so Noboru was now wearing his dark blue, almost black blazer, and the white shirt under it was now long-sleeved.

Just as he was crossing the street at an intersection, he heard a familiar voice call him from somewhere left and behind. “Yo, Noboru! Wait up!”

After crossing, he turned to wait. A moment later, someone ran across and stopped to take a breath  beside Noboru. This someone was a high schooler like him, though from a different high school, and he still had a short-sleeved shirt and no blazer. It revealed well his athletic body. He was a tall and pleasantly muscular guy, though his face was too average to be a girl-magnet. His short hair was dyed blond.

“Morning, Arata. What's up?”

Arata recovered quickly from his sprint to catch up with Noboru. “Morning. I was just wondering, haven't seen you at the gym since last week's Monday. Any particular reason? You know it doesn't work if you don't do it often enough.” Inoue Arata was affiliated with a certain... group who were involved with a nearby gym, and he'd arranged Noboru a discount there for years already. Noboru didn't particularly enjoy working out, and he certainly wasn't trying to grow muscles to impress girls: for him, keeping his body in a good shape was a matter of necessity. While it didn't come as useful nowadays as it had when he still couldn't put too much faith in his magic, he still considered things like stamina and running speed essential in his 'job'. On his slim body, the results of the training didn't really show outside, like they did for Arata, but Noboru frequently had to hold back in PE in order to avoid drawing too much attention. A geek running almost as fast as the track team ace would certainly result in uncomfortable questions.

“I've been dealing with someone... difficult the past three nights. I really need my naps after nights like that.” Noboru flashed a pale, joyless smile, and Arata nodded. He understood. He knew. In fact, he was one of the two people in the world, besides Noboru himself, who knew of Noboru's nightly hunts.

“Alright then. As usual, give me a call the day before when you want to go.” Suddenly, the vicious wind reminded them of its presence. Arata tensed up and rubbed his bare arms, eyeing Noboru's blazer enviously. “Brrr... Feels like a bad omen, doesn't it?” Noboru fixed his fringe, which the mischievous wind had rudely played with, and nodded.

“I have to go now, Shou is waiting.” Arata gave a little nod towards another boy who was now waiting for him on the other side of the street. Tachibana Shou was slimmer and had a much more handsome face than Arata, and he definitely didn't look like a delinquent. However, the truth was that Tachibana was the leader and Arata the follower. They were close friends, as far as Noboru could judge, but the power relationship was absolute.

“Yeah. See you later.”

“See you!” Arata slapped him on the shoulder and ran across the street again – forcing a driver to pull the brake suddenly, and receiving an angry toot as a reward. Noboru walked on.

Barely half a minute later, Kazuya and Fumio appeared as if magically next to him on both sides.

“You were talking to that delinquent again,” Kazuya said in an accusing tone. Geeks and delinquents didn't get along, that was a universal truth, as far as Kazuya was concerned. “Decent people like us shouldn't associate with his kind of people, they are dangerous.”

So am I. “Kazuya, drop it. I don't like hearing my friends badmouth each other.” It was a good thing Kazuya had no idea whom Arata was really working for. He might get a heart attack.

“I know he wants to repay you for saving his life and all,” Fumio cut in, “but is it really wise to hang out with him? People might start avoiding you.” The official story was, Noboru had pulled Arata out of the road when he'd almost been run over by a car. A likely enough story, given Arata's recklessness in traffic... but the truth was, of course, more complicated.
“Fumio,” Noboru said and put his arms around both of his friends' shoulders familiarly, “if I was really that concerned over my public image... would I really be hanging out with you guys?”

* * *

Be it by chance or by fate, Noboru and his friends arrived at the school gate at the same time as the black limousine carrying miss Peak stopped before the gate. As she stepped out of the car and noticed him, she almost tripped on her own feet. A much stronger reaction than the usual split-second freeze or inconspicuous flinch. She must still be distraught over last night. There was no way she wouldn't have sensed Noboru and the demon's combined power within less than 500 metres from her. Noboru hoped she hadn't actually seen anything, that'd be bad.

“Good morning, Piiku-san!” Fumio piped up, his voice somewhat higher than usual, clearly too anxious to make the greeting natural. Come to think of it, in this situation it'd be strange not to greet each other. Oh well, too late, it'd be awkward now...

“Eh? Oh, good morning!” Peak was clearly caught off-guard, and while the smile she flashed at the three of them was beautiful, Noboru still thought it looked a little fake. However, when she walked in through the gate, there was no sign of haste or uncertainty in her walk. The three boys still stood outside the school grounds and watched on as practically everyone on the courtyard greeted her with respect, and she responded with much more grace than just a moment before.

“Don't you think something's wrong with Piiku-san?” Fumio asked, frowning thoughtfully.

“Yeah, that smile had to be fake. And since when has she ever stumbled like that?” Kazuya agreed.

Sometimes they surprise me with how sharp they can be, Noboru though somewhat rudely about his friends. “Who knows?” he said in a tone as indifferent as he could make it. “Let's go, the class is starting.”


I'll be releasing full chapters in FictionPress from now on, but here I'll continue as I have so far, a scene or two per update.

Heh... Someone posted a "review" on this story on FictionPress and said they got hooked already. Apart from actual constructive criticism, that's pretty much the best praise a writer could get. :D

Here's the last update before shit hits the fan on the second chapter and we reach the events of the prologue. Look forward to reading that scene from Emi's perspective. ;) The rest of the chapter will be posted at once, almost certainly before the holidays end.


“So, Emi, how did yesterday's meeting go?” Akemi asked on the lunch break. After meeting Satou at the gate – Emi still berated herself over losing her composure like so – the morning had been uneventful. Emi frequently found her attention slipping, as her thoughts were occupied by the party she'd be attending tonight. Houjou Ichirou, a successful businessman who'd made his fortune with electronics and later also stock market, had turned fifty and was holding a grand birthday party. Because the party was in Tokyo, she'd be leaving a little early from school and returning late in the night. She'd be returning alone, by the way, because her parents had taken the opportunity and arranged some meetings in Tokyo for the next day.

“It was boring”, she replied absently. “I really didn't like the man we were meeting, but of course I had to put out a cheerful front.” Just recalling that dirty old man gave her the creeps. She quickly and deliberately returned to thinking about tonight's dress options.

Akemi and Kanako were looking at each other questioningly. It was unusual for Emi to be this absent-minded.

“What are you thinking about so intently?” Kanako asked, peering at her downcast face.

“I have another party tonight. It's in Tokyo, and there will be many important people, so my parents want me to make the best if it.” That meant making connections, charming boys and milking them for information.

“Aww, I wish I could take part in a party like that,” Akemi said with dreamy eyes. “Wearing a beautiful dress, meeting rich and handsome boys, maybe even falling in love with one...” Keiko snorted, raising her eyes from her book (she always read while eating) just for a brief moment to cast a disapproving glance at the daydreaming Akemi.

Akemi quickly returned to reality. “I bet they'll all fawn over you, Emi.”

“No doubt,” Emi replied drily. “And that's exactly the problem. I'll have to dance with dozens of horny boys, most of them self-absorbed and spoiled rotten. It'll be worth it just for the few nice ones among them, but it does get tiring. Trust me, these parties lose a lot of their glamour when you're actually in them.” Thank god Masaki-kun would be there. They were planning to enter together, that alone would spare Emi from a few propositions of the kind that she invariably rejected.

“I think you're just too used to it to see what a dream life you live,” Akemi complained while chewing a piece of tamagoyaki.

Dream life, huh? I guess I've been fortunate compared to many, but... sometimes I just feel like everything I do is meaningless... Her contemplation was interrupted when Satou walked past right behind Akemi and Keiko, on his way out of the classroom. That glance he shot at Emi, it made shivers go down her spine again. Was it malice? No. Once again Emi had to conclude that she couldn't read Satou at all.

Akemi turned her head to see what it was that had – Emi just now realised – made Emi freeze in the middle of picking up a piece of chicken with her chopsticks. Quickly she resumed the movement, but it was too late, the damage was already done within that two seconds of immobility.

“Nee, Emi-chan,” Akemi began, using the suffix that she only ever used with Emi when she was about to say something mischievous, “do you, by any chance... like Satou-kun?”

Oh god, this misunderstanding is going to be a pain to correct. Having picked up the warning signs, Emi managed to keep her composure. Just. “Of course not. Whatever gave you such a silly notion?”

Kanako, and even Keiko, was now looking at Emi curiously. Akemi carried on, clearly enjoying the situation: “Well, I was just thinking, you always look at him in a different way than everyone else. I can just feel the tension between you two, though maybe there's some other reason...?”

Emi sighed and put down her chopsticks. She motioned everyone to come closer, then spoke in a low voice: “Don't you think he's sort of... frightening?”

“Frightening?” Akemi and Kanako shared a confused glance. “You think Satou-kun is scary? That... geek?”

“I've heard he hangs out with a delinquent from another school,” Kanako continued where Akemi left, “but to me he doesn't seem scary at all. Maybe a little creepy, but harmless.”

“His record is spotless, except a few missed attendances,” Keiko added. “No violence.”

Emi shook her head, frustrated. “I'm not talking about delinquent level scary. I'm talking about psychopathic killer level scary! Look, I have enemies, powerful enemies, but none of them make me tremble in fear like he does, with just a look in my way!”

Maybe she'd said too much. The three other girls looked really confused and worried now. Kanako put her hand over Emi's right hand on the table.

“Emi, you shouldn't judge others so far based on looks alone. Is this one of your hunches again? I know you trust those premonitions of danger, but...”

“I know, Kanako, I know.” Emi put her own left hand over Kanako's and squeezed gently, smiling as reassuringly as she could manage. “I know it has to be my imagination. I'm just so used to trusting my hunches that it takes some time to get over this. I'll try.”

Thankfully, their hushed discussion seemed to have passed without raising anyone's attention, and for the rest of the lunch break, they dropped the subject in favour of more light-hearted chatter.

* * *

For Noboru, the rest of the day went by uneventfully. Or so he would have liked. A certain group of delinquents, however, had other plans.

They were waiting for him on his way home, on a quiet section of the street. It was one of those residential areas where the streets were flanked by walls. Well, they probably weren't waiting for him specifically, Noboru was quite sure he'd never seen them before, but regardless, they were there and they were trouble. There were three of them, they were chilling on the walkway, each with a can of drink in their hands. They looked like your common punks, with bleached hairs and piercings and school uniforms worn loosely. Noboru recognised the uniform, it was the same as the one Aruta wore. His school was close by, so it was no surprise.

Better just go around, Noboru figured, turned right and crossed the road to the walkway on the other side. Too bad it wasn't far enough. As soon as they noticed him, the delinquents also crossed the road and positioned themselves on his way.

oboru was in a bad mood. He hadn't had any sleep in nearly 48 hours, there was an annoying demon in his city, and now these punks were wilfully getting in his way. He seriously considered using magic to deal with this, as inconvenient as if was to clean up afterwards. (No, not that kind of clean-up.)

“What do you want?” he asked, trying to remain patient. Maybe they just wanted to ask some questions?

Yeah, right. “Lend me some money, man,” the punk in the middle demanded. He was the tallest of the three, kind of scrawny, and he had two rings on his left ear and a blonde mohawk. “I'm broke, and my, uh, sister is sick, she needs medicine.”

Well, this was new. The guy actually bothered coming up with a half-decent excuse. Noboru rolled his eyes.

“Oh, sure,” he replied with a sarcastic smile. “Can't leave your sister without medical care, can we? How much do you need? Keep in mind, though, my interest rates are high. I'll make it ten percent, since it's for a humanitarian cause.”

The punk blinked a few times, then his face distorted in anger and he grabbed Noboru from his blazer's lapel. “You fucker, do you think you can get away with making fun of me?!”

“Get out of my way. I don't have the time to deal with small fries like you.” Noboru lowered his head and glared at the punk over his glasses with all the anger, arrogance and bloodlust he could muster. Demons had backed away from that glare. But then, they could feel his power. These poor fools could only see his admittedly unimpressive body.

Still, it seemed to work at first, the thug let go and took a wary step back, startled expression on his face. But then he seemed to gain courage from the presence of his two friends.

“Huh? You think you can just order us around? Who the fuck do you think you are?”

Several things happened during the next few seconds. The punk reached for Noboru's lapel again, Noboru stepped sideways... and someone ran over from behind the thugs, bellowing “ORRAAAA!!” very manly, and jump kicked the middle guy in the back, sending him flying on his face. Ouch.

“Ba- Banchou?!” the two remaining thugs cried in unison. Before they could make a move, the “Banchou” punched one of them in the face, sending him flying onto the middle of the street, roaring “YOU-”, and then turned around and sunk his leg into the stomach of the other, making him double up, and finishing with: “FOOLS!!”

Noboru surveyed the scene of carnage. “Swift work. Impressive.”

The Banchou ignored him. “Haven't I told you idiots not to bother ordinary people?! We'll talk about your punishment tomorrow, now get the fuck out of my sight!”

Only when the three unfortunate thugs had picked themselves up and limped away, did the Banchou turn to Noboru. “I'm sorry about that. They're freshmen, and numbskulls like them are slow to learn.”

“It's alright, it's not your fault,” Noboru appeased the steaming Arata. “Anyway, thanks. You saved me.”

They started walking side by side. “It's nothing. I saved them just as much as I saved you. You looked like you might... you know...”

“Use magic?” Noboru chuckled. “It's possible. I was feeling rather pissed off just a moment ago. But seeing that beating you gave them somehow cheered me up.”

“You know, you're much more bloodthirsty than you look.”
“Comes with the job, I suppose. Anyway, you saved me the indignity of having to run away. And more importantly, you saved me some precious naptime.”
Arata shook his head in amused disbelief. “I'm glad to hear you have your priorities straight. Anyway, we'd both best head home now.” He stopped as they reached an intersection.
Noboru turned and nodded. “Yeah. See you around.”
“Have a good nap!” Arata bid him with a grin.

Chapter 2 finally uploaded. http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3086123/3/Mr-Darkness-and-Mrs-Moonlight

After a long wait... Chapter 3 is out: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3086123/4/Mr-Darkness-and-Mrs-Moonlight


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